My manager made it clear that my org is not offering return FT offers, but that he would put "incline return" for an internship position if I stayed another year in school (or somehow delayed graduation until 2025).
I could just take random classes or another major to extend my time in school. I also could do a 1-year Masters program which I have already been admitted into. But I am an older student and would rather not stay another year in school. I also feel like I am learning very little in school (I go to a small state school). Compared to the ridiculous amount I learned this summer in the industry, I feel like staying in school for another year would be a huge waste of money and time.
I could potentially work Fall/Spring internships for the next year (so basically a gap year) to artifically delay graduation by a year as well.
Becuase I go to a small state school, getting interviews from Big Tech is extremely hard. We send about 1-3 kids to each FAANG+ company each year and I was only able to get 2 FAANG+ interviews even with refferals to every top company, a 4.0 GPA and relevent experience. Even getting actual SWE engineering jobs is really hard with most CS grads getting jobs labeled "SWE" but that involve very little coding.
Because of that, my worry is this might be my only chance to break into Big Tech for a long time (if ever).
So is it worth delaying my graduation for a shot at big tech? Or should I just graduate and start my career, even if its at a non-tech company (with potentially very little actual engineering work)?
You should be open to it but explore your options in parallel.
I initially read this thinking that you would only need to delay by another quarter or semester, but it looks like it's an entire year (which is super long). Even though Amazon is an amazing tech company (and a great place to start your career as we talk about here: Why You Should Start Your Career At A Big Tech Company), that big of a gap isn't ideal.
I actually know someone who delayed their graduation for a 2nd FAANG internship (it was Google, and they're now doing extremely well), but it was only by an additional quarter. I actually think this is better than graduating in 4 years flat as the 2nd internship prepares you more for the full-time job, and you can take your time earning the necessary credits for graduation. Do you think it's possible to do something like this?
If not, I would try to leave the offer on the table for as long as you can while interviewing on the side. You don't need to go to FAANG straight out of school - There are many other companies that can be an excellent (or even better) start to your career.
If you ever want guidance on whether a proper full-time SWE offer is better than waiting another year for an Amazon internship, feel free to ask another Taro question and we'll look into it!
I recommend this thread as well, especially given what you said about your school: "How to make the most of my time in school?"